Following our look at the Championship, it’s now time to cast our eyes towards League One, the launchpad for both Norwich and now Southampton’s march to the Premiership. How did the early season predictions pan out?
Actual – Charlton, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield
Predicted – Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton.
So I was quite pleased with this selection! At the beginning of the campaign I stated that this division had so many big teams in that surely some would be able to re-establish themselves, and they haven’t let me down.
Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday, both former Premiership teams, both look like they have benefitted from a successful rebuilding period away from the top two divisions, with Wednesday in particular benefitting from a certain Milan Mandaric. Although they secured promotion by the tightest of margins, it is good to see them rising again, although the lack of a Steel City derby next season will be a loss (although the Sheffield constabulary might think different…)
Charlton had a fantastic young manager who knew the club inside out, a terrific fanbase, good stadium, and a hungry team made up of seasoned pro’s and great young talent. Bradley Wright-Phillips, Ben Hamer, Danny Haynes, Yann Kermogant and others have blossomed under Chris Powell’s leadership and should definitely make their mark next season.
Finally Huddersfield. For so long the division’s nearly men, the Terriers finally clinched promotion back to the second tier for the first time since 2004, defeating former promotion favourites Sheffield United at Wembley following an epic penalty shootout . Although their mammoth record-breaking 43-match unbeaten record was ended by Charlton back in November, the team continued to persevere, and keeping hold of talismanic 38-goal striker Jordan Rhodes was a stroke of genius. If Rhodes remains, expect them to prosper next year for sure.
Actual – Wycombe, Chesterfield, Exeter, Rochdale
Predicted – Oldham, Yeovil, Tranmere, Stevenage
OK, so this one was a bit off. In a division populated by often-struggling mid-table teams, an extended bad run of form can often spell doom as you get sucked into a relegation scrap. This year was no exception, as teams struggling at the foot of the table went on scintillating unbeaten runs, making for a very tense finish. This season saw two of the teams promoted from League Two last year go down, including former champions Chesterfield, who were badly hit by the departure of Craig Davies, as Jack Lester and Craig Westcarr’s brave efforts were not enough to save them.
Rochdale also sadly return to the league which held them for so long, but will be hopeful they can bounce back, especially if they keep captain Gary Jones. Exeter will also be sadly missed, not just for Paul Tisdale’s ascots and dapper suits, but because the trip down the A38 is always a good one. Wycombe lost out by the skin of their teeth, but their hungry young team proved in the last few games of the season (where they so nearly clinched survival) that they have the tenacity needed to challenge again next season.
Player of the season – Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield)
A simply staggering goalscoring record this season saw Rhodes finally secure promotion for the Terriers. Supposedly rated at £8m, it will take one heck of a bid to tempt the Scotland international
Team of the Season
Ben Hamer (Charlton), Matthew Lowton (Sheffield United), Michael Morrison (Charlton), Rob Jones (Sheffield Wednesday), Rhoys Wiggins (Charlton), Scott Wagstaff (Charlton), Sam Saunders (Brentford), Johnnie Jackson (Charlton), Will Grigg (Walsall), Gary Madine (Sheffield Wednesday), Jordan Rhodes (Huddersfield)